Middle East

Mondoweiss Online Newsletter



Bahrain Grand Prix staff are held and abused, still Grand Prix says race must go on

Jun 06, 2011


and other news from the Arab uprisings:

Bahraini doctors and nurses charged
Medical staff who treated protesters accused of plotting to overthrow kingdom’s monarchy amid reports of more violence.
Bahrain medics accused of treason
Dozens of doctors and nurses who treated injured anti-government protesters during the months of unrest in Bahrain have gone on trial accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy.
Bahrain police clash with Shi’ite religious marchers (Reuters)
Reuters – Bahraini police clashed with Shi’ite marchers in a religious festival late on Sunday, less than a week after the Gulf kingdom repealed an emergency law that quashed weeks of protests.
Bahrain police open fire at protesters in capital (AP)
AP – Bahraini police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters marching toward the landmark Pearl Square in the country’s capital Friday, two days after authorities lifted emergency rule.
Bahrain police disperse Shiite-led march: activist (AFP)
AFP – Bahraini police dispersed a small group of Shiites who marched Friday towards Pearl Square, focal point of protests which the regime demolished during a crackdown on protesters in mid-March, activists said.
Bahrain crown prince to visit Washington
Bahrain’s crown prince will arrive in Washington next week for an official visit as his country seeks to return to normalcy following the lifting of the emergency law earlier this week. Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa will meet with President Barack Obama and other senior U.S. officials, according to three sources with knowledge of the visit. The crown prince is perceived to be one of the more liberal figures in the ruling regime, and he supports granting opposition groups a greater say in how the country is governed.
Al Jalabi calls on Saudi Forces to withdraw from Bahrain
Head of Iraq’s National Congress Party Ahmad Al Jalabi called on Saudi Forces to withdraw from Bahrain. Al Jalabi urged the Bahraini government to resolve the crisis peacefully, stop the killing and release detainees.
Bahrainis hold female activist funeral
Bahraini protesters have held the funeral of a female activist ahead of the nation’s planned massive anti-government rallies on Friday. The body of Zainab Al-Tajar was buried in the populous area of Sanabis, near the capital city of Manama on Friday morning, the Financial Times reported.
‘Bahrain fires staff on protest suspicion’
The Bahraini regime has dismissed hundreds of professionals over suspicions of their participation in anti-government protests in the Persian Gulf country. The government has accused many people working at state-run companies and organizations of leaving work to join protests and fired them from their jobs, local activists told Reuters.
‘At around 7pm he was told to strip naked and was again beaten severely’
This is the account of one Shia member of staff at the Bahrain International Circuit, which hosts the Grand Prix, who was arrested in April. Still suffering from injuries inflicted by his interrogators, he has now left the country. He wishes to remain anonymous and is referred to as AB throughout:
Webber at odds with Bahrain decision (AFP)
AFP – Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber said Saturday he was deeply uncomfortable with the decision to reinstate the Bahrain Grand Prix into the 2011 world championship calendar and forecast the decision could yet founder.
Protests simmer as Bahrain wins back Formula One (Reuters)
Reuters – Bahrain scored a public relations coup on Friday by winning back its Formula One Grand Prix, canceled earlier this year after pro-democracy protests erupted in the Gulf Arab island kingdom.

Bahrain lobbies to retain Grand Prix as Formula One staff are held and abused
Formula One is expected to rule today on Bahrain’s attempt to stage a coveted Grand Prix this season despite police arresting and abusing one quarter of the local staff during a crackdown against pro-democracy protests
Patrick Cockburn: Only winners from brutal repression of Shia majority will be Saudi Arabia
How to explain the ferocity of the Bahraini al-Khalifa royal family’s assault on the majority of its own people? Despite an end to martial law, the security forces show no signs of ceasing to beat detainees to the point of death, threaten schoolgirls with rape and force women to drink bottles of urine. The systematic use of torture in Bahrain has all the demented savagery of the European witch trials in the 16th and 17th centuries. In both cases, interrogators wanted to give substance to imagined conspiracies by extracting forced confessions. In Europe, innocent women were forced to confess to witchcraft, while in Bahrain the aim of the torturers is to get their victims to admit to seeking to overthrow the government. Often they are accused of having treasonous links with Iran, something for which the New York-based Human Rights Watch says there is “zero evidence”.
Nazeeha Saeed’s Ordeal, PATRICK COCKBURN
Bahrain is seeking to stage the Formula One motor race, whose organizers meet today in Barcelona to decide where it will take place, despite police arresting and abusing a quarter of the local staff of the event. The race was postponed in February because of pro-democracy protests and the government is eager to have it rescheduled in Bahrain later this year to show that life in the island kingdom is returning to normal.
Continuing Bahraini State Terror, Steve Lendman
For months, Bahraini and Saudi security forces targeted nonviolent protesters and activists wanting the repressive Al Khalifa monarchy replaced by constitutionally elected government, political freedom, and social justice, what Bahrainis never had and don’t now.
Khaled Said : One Year searching for lost right leads to a revolution
Today is the anniversary of Khaled Said’s murder , on that day after noon he was stalked by these two detective and was beaten to death by them in the street. After couple of days we began to hear his story from Alexandria from Dr. Ayman Nour in his column in Dostor then after few days we saw the shocking pictures of Khaled. On 10/6/ I wrote the first chronicle aboutKhaled Said’s case chronicles after hesitation of publishing his photos. Today Khaled’s mom Mrs. Laila visited his tomb in the morning in Alexandria. I can’t hold my tears when I see this lady or any martyr’s mom now.
Remembering Khaled Said’s murder
Next Monday 6th of June 2011 will mark the first anniversary of Khaled Said’s murder , it is the first anniversary after one year , a very special year that did not change the course of history in Egypt but rather the course of history in the Middle East. What began as a simple silent stand at the Alexandrian famous corniche attracting for the first time the silent middle class of Egypt ended by a remarkable revolution. Now next Monday 6th of June 2011 The “We are all Khaled Said” page is calling for asilent stand across the country to mark the anniversary of Khaled Said at 5 PM for one hour. Of course after the three alleged torture incidents ended with Yesterday Azbakia driver activists decided to have a stand in front of the ministry of interior itself at the same time. The stand has a list of demands like having a judicial supervision on police stations and the new national security agency and prosecuting all the officers responsible for torture cases in Egypt.
Egypt sentences former finance minister
Youssef Boutros-Ghali, tried in absentia, is ordered to serve 30 years in jail and pay over $5m.
Egypt’s interior minister denies giving Mubarak special treatment
Interior Minister El-Eissawi denies that Egypt’s interim ‎government is dragging its feet to transfer ousted president Hosni Mubarak to Tora Prison.
Three judges in Egypt investigated after publicly criticizing the military
The country’s justice ministry is investigating three judges who spoke out against the military trials of civilians in Egypt. The judges publicly criticized transferring civilians to criminal courts, al-Ahram newspaper reported.
Fury over advert claiming Egypt revolution as Vodafone’s
Video scorned because phone company obeyed Mubarak’s order to shut down network during protests
Egypt military quizzes reporters over Islamist deal story
CAIRO (AFP) – Military prosecutors questioned a newspaper editor and a journalist on Friday over a report alleging Egypt’s military would back an Islamist group in elections, a source said.
Independents contact Egypt to contain Rafah crisis
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A coalition of independent figures are holding talks with Egypt to overcome obstacles preventing Palestinians from crossing at the Rafah terminal between Egypt and Gaza. The group is asking people to be patient while the Egyptian side resumes operations via the crossing as planned, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the week excluding Fridays and holidays.
Egypt’s Tantawi, Barak discuss Shalit deal
Defense minister’s talk with Egypt’s military leader suggests progress in prisoner swap deal that aims to free captive soldier.
Trial to strip Gamal Mubarak and Elbaradei of Egyptian nationality delayed
The trial for the petition to drop Gamal Mubarak and presidential hopeful, ElBaradei’s Egyptian citizenship (therefore excluding them from running for president) has been postponed to 19 June
Poll: Egypt optimistic but worried about jobs
Two new surveys find Egyptians optimistic about their political future but worried about the economy and crime.
Future of Arab uprisings
The future of Arab uprisings hinges on what happens in Egypt.  If Egyptian rebels push forward against the Military Council they will surely inspire half uprisings or quarter uprisings to progress.  As things stand now, it does not look pretty as the Saudi-Qatari Counter-revolutionary council mange the Yemeni and Libyan uprising, and Saudi Arabia seems to have purchased Tantawi’s lousy junta.
Saudi Arabia and Egyptian laborers
Egyptian newspapers reported last week that Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Manpower Adel Fakieh told a gathering of businessmen at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce that his country would not renew work permits for foreign laborers who have been in Saudi Arabia for more than six years. The statement immediately raised concerns in official Egyptian circles over the potential negative impact of such a decision. According to the chairman of the union of companies employing Egyptian workers abroad, 2.5 million Egyptians work Saudi Arabia, 70 percent of whom have been working there for over six years. In other words, about 1.5 million workers could be threatened with expulsion, thus increasing the unemployment rate in Egypt.
Iraqi activist: PM paints protesters as terrorists (AP)
AP – A leading Iraqi human rights organizer who confronted the prime minister on national TV says he is trying to paint legitimate protesters as terrorists.
Baghdad residents demonstrate in Tahrir Square
Tens of Baghdad residents demonstrated in Al Tahrir Square on Friday calling for comprehensive reforms in Iraq and to improve services in the country. Protesters urged to free 4 people who were arrested last Friday.
Jordan protesters step up calls for PM to resign
About 3,000 people take to the streets in seven cities across Jordan; pro-reform activists say PM has taken a lenient approach toward corruption and is not serious about political reform.
Kuwait protesters demand PM’s removal
Thousands rally in Gulf state seeking dismissal of government, parliament’s dissolution and snap polls.
NATO helicopters join Libya mission
French and British helicopters attack targets around Port Brega, the first use of such aircraft in the NATO campaign. Rebel leaders hail the move, but it is unclear whether it will signal a new rebel offensive. French and British attack helicopters hit targets in Libya in the first use of such aircraft as part of the NATO-led campaign against the government of Moammar Kadafi, authorities said Saturday.
Muammar Gaddafi’s Troops Hit By British, French Airstrikes In Libya
BENGHAZI, Libya — British Apache and French attack helicopters struck targets for the first time in NATO’s campaign in Libya, hitting Moammar Gadhafi’s troops early Saturday near a key coastal oil town, the alliance said. Hours later, at least eight airstrikes were heard in Tripoli. The action was a significant step-up in NATO’s operations and a major boost to Libyan rebels, just a day after rebel fighters forced government troops from three western towns and broke the siege of a fourth in yet another erosion of Gadhafi’s power since the eruption in mid-February of the uprising to end his 42-year rule.
Tunisia finds 150 bodies from refugee vessels
The bodies of 150 African refugees fleeing turmoil in Libya have been recovered off the Tunisian coast after the vessels carrying them illegally to Europe got into difficulty, a U.N. official said Friday.
Qatar deportation of Eman al-Obeidi violates international law
Al-Obeidi, who publically accused Libyan soldiers of rape, has been deported to eastern Libya against her will.
Libyan ‘rape victim’ heads to US
Libyan Eman al-Obeidi, who said she was raped by Col Gaddafi’s supporters, has left eastern Libya for the US, according to her sister.
Iman al-Obeidi, Libya Woman Claiming Rape, Deported BackTo Libya
BENGHAZI — A U.N. official says a Libyan woman who claims she was gang-raped by Moammar Gadhafi’s troops has been deported from Qatar, where she sought refuge. Sybella Wilkes, spokeswoman for the United Nations’ refugee organization, says Iman al-Obeidi is now in Benghazi. Wilkes said Thursday that al-Obeidi was a recognized refugee and that there wasn’t any “good reason” why she was deported from Doha, where she sought refuge last month. Al-Obeidi made headlines in March when she rushed distraught into Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel, seeking to speak to foreign reporters. She claimed she was detained by a number of Gadhafi troops at a Tripoli checkpoint and raped. As she told her story, al-Obeidi was tackled by government minders and dragged from the hotel.
NATO jets target Libyan capital
Raids on army vehicles and ammunition depots in Tripoli follow announcement of extension of alliance’s Libyan mission.
NATO renews airstrikes after extending Libya mission by three months
NATO’s extension of its intervention in Libya comes amid a slew of defections from Tripoli. Can Qaddafi hang on?
Thousands missing in Libya
In Misrata, pro-Gaddafi soldiers have fought with opposition forces for over two months. Estimates suggest they also abducted more than twelve hundred people during their occupation. Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley reports.
Libyan revolutionaries deny Israeli relations talks
The National Transitional Council, the political body leading the Libyan revolution, denied claims that if in power, it would seek diplomatic ties with Israel.http://www.palestine-info.co.uk/En/default.aspx?xyz=U
The Libyan Transitional Council and Israel
I detest the Libyan Transitional Council but I detest even more Bernard-Henri Lévy, and find him to be fabricator of the first order.  Regarding claims he has made about a message from the lousy Libyan Transitional Council to Israel, I was skeptical.  Sure enough the Libyan council said this:  “The vice-chairman of the Libyan opposition National Transition Council (NTC), Mr Abdelhafid Roka, has denied in a statement to Echorouk the persisting rumours alleging that the NTC is envisaging to establish relations with Israel in the future.  “I firmly deny as baseless the recent declaration made to this effect by French writer and philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy on behalf of the Libyan national transition council”, Roka asserted.   He stressed that the NTC had never asked Henri Levy to convey any message of this sort to the Zionist entity leaders as alleged by the troublesome French writer and philosopher… Abdelhafid Roka further underlined that such groundless assertions were being propagated by the despotic Kadhafi regime and its henchmen with the glaring aim of tarnishing the image of the national transition council in the eyes of the fervent supporters of the legitimate Palestinian cause in the Arab world and elsewhere.”
Libya Rebels Going Broke Despite Pile Of Gold
BENGHAZI, Libya — Abdalgader Albagrmi’s office sits above a vault piled high with gold. It’s the dwindling pile of cash next to the bullion, however, that keeps the Libyan rebels’ deputy Central Bank chief up at night. As that pile shrinks, so too does the chance of funding and sustaining a revolution to oust one of the world’s longest-serving dictators.
Moroccans hold peaceful protest despite government ban
RABAT — Hundreds of young Moroccans on Sunday flouted a government ban and held a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Rabat as authorities promised not to crack down on protesters, officials and demonstrators said.
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s Women2Drive campaign is up against society
Manal al-Sharif’s protest over women’s right to drive leaves her open to smears and mud slinging. The issue must be politicised. Manal al-Sharif, the woman who attracted global attention to the Saudi Women2Drive campaign when she posted videos of herself driving on YouTube, was released earlier this week from Dammam prison.
Madawi Al-Rasheed, ed., “Kingdom without Borders: Saudi Arabia’s Political, Religious, and Media Frontiers”
Saudi Arabia realised the importance of the media — first in print, and later in images — for its expansionist projects. From the early Arab and English monographs commissioned and written in the 1930s and 1940s to establish the historical and contemporary credentials of the state, to the recent media empires of the 1980s, vast sums of money were invested in promoting the country’s image and agenda. Investing oil wealth in appropriating the Arab media and intellectual public spheres to ensure publicity, silence criticism and co-opt dissenting voices led to what is often referred to as ‘petrodollar’ media’. From Cairo to Beirut and later London and Washington, Saudi-owned media sold to Arab audiences stories, interpretations and commentaries whose main objective was to denounce rivals, promote allies and generate consensus over Saudi expansion in distant locales. Saudi overseas media brought money, politics and religion in a unified chorus, whose drums echoed among Arab immigrants in the suburbs of London, Paris and Washington, as well as in the cities of the Middle East, Africa and Asia. . . .
How dumb is it to expect Hillary Clinton to take up the cause of Saudi women? How dumb?
“Saudi activists have written an open letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a champion of women’s rights around the world, urging her to publicly press Saudi Arabia to let women drive.”
Syrian security forces ‘shoot 31 people dead’
Syrian security forces have shot dead 31 people since Friday during demonstrations in a town in the north-west, residents say.

Syrian troops ‘kill 13 civilians’
Syrian forces killed at least 13 civilians in the central town of Rastan yesterday, activists said, in the latest attempt to quell a revolt against the 11-year rule of the President Bashar al-Assad.
SYRIA: Big cities remain ambivalent as regime brutality takes its toll
While the regime of President Bashar Assad has cracked down on smaller cities in Syria, residents of the nation’s large cities, including Aleppo and the capital Damascus, seem ambivalent about staging mass protests.
Syria Internet Cut Off In Some Regions As Central Town Pounded
BEIRUT — A Syrian rights group says security forces opened fire during one of the largest anti-government protests so far in the 10-week revolt, killing at least eight people. Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, says tens of thousands of people were protesting in Hama when security forces opened fire.
Syrian activists protest in Turkey
Syrian opposition activists raise the flag of independence in the Turkish city of Antalya in this video clip taken by Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Vall. The protest came as a group of opposition leaders held a conference in the city to forge a plan on supporting the uprising.
breaking news on Syrian regime TV
Syrian regime TV has this breaking news flash:  “Armed people block the roads in Nazihin quarter in Homs and set government buildings on fire, and attack the people.”  On the one hand, “life is normal”–they keep reporting, and then they air such breaking news stories.  The regime is undermining its own sources of ostensible legitimacy: that it alone can protect the people. But they are now admitted they can no more protect the people.
Lies of the Syrian regime
Now there is no question, that AlJazeera has now become nothing less than a full propaganda voice for NATO and the Arab counter-revolution.  Its reports are more sermons and preachments and calls for mobilization than standard journalism which the network was known for.  Having said that, Syrian regime TV is even worse.  The Syrian regime has become more imaginative in weaving lies and fabrications and theatrics.  It is like reading a fiction story.  They shoot at demonstrators in Hamah and then they have a “breaking news” flash in which they talk about a mysterious armed group which suddenly shows up at a time of demonstration and then start shooting at both demonstrators and police force members (they are always “police” in Syrian regime TV broadcast as Syria does not have a brutal mukhabarat force, according to the regime).  They talk to people in different parts of the country affirming that “life is normal” everywhere.  But how do they square their claims of “life is normal” with their own reports of a roving “criminal gang” moving around the country and shooting at people?  They need to synchronize their lies, for potato’s sake.
As’ad AbuKhalil, “Muslim Brotherhood and US Representatives at Syrian Opposition Conference in Antalya, Turkey”
The Muslim Brotherhood ran the conference in Antalya and the statement that spoke about the “civil state” is not going to fool me because US representatives in Antalya (yes they were there) pressed for an inclusive statement. This is exactly what the US tried to do in conferences by the Iraqi exile opposition before the Ayatullah Sistani republic was set up in Iraq.
The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony and the Burial of the Martyrs: Syrian Dances in the Arab Spring
[August 10th, 2009] Bosra is on fire. Red lights shine through the night in the ancient Roman amphitheatre. The smoke pours onto the stage, where the famous pop singer, Ali al-Deek, and his orchestra have set the audience and the stage on metaphorical fire. Everyone is dancing: old men in traditional attire, women with children in their hands, with or without hijab on their hair, young men and women in groups, people in the front rows, at the back, on the stairs, officials, guests and dignitaries along with ordinary, village people. The impressive Roman theatre of Bosra, one of the world’s best preserved, located in the municipality of Dar’a, is filled beyond its fifteen hundred capacity.
Yemen: States Should Freeze Officials’ Assets
(Tunis) – The Yemeni government’s escalating violence against largely peaceful protesters and medical workers should prompt countries around the world to freeze foreign assets of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his top security officials, Human Rights Watch said today. Other countries should also ban all exports of arms and security equipment to Yemen, Human Rights Watch said.
Arab Spring claims its third despot
The uprisings sweeping the Arab world appeared to have won their third victory over authoritarian rule by overthrowing President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen after 33 years in power. He left for Saudi Arabia on Saturday to be treated for injuries received in an explosion in his presidential palace and is unlikely to return.
Saleh is gone. What next for Yemen?
The president’s departure for medical treatment has created an opportunity to resolve Yemen’s political crisis. With the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh for medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, Yemenis now have a chance to resolve the political crisis that has bedevilled the country since February.
Saleh undergoes surgery as Yemen rejoices
Protesters celebrate what they say is fall of president after he travels to Riyadh for medical treatment for injuries.
Yemeni officials trying to flee the country following president’s departure
Yemeni media outlets have reported that a number of officials in the regime are trying to flee the country following the departure of President Ali Abdallah Saleh. The reports say that he has gone to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, having been wounded in a raid against the presidential palace.
Battle rages in Yemeni capital
Heavy fighting continues across Sanaa, with witnesses saying security forces have fired live bullets at protesters.
Thousands flee fighting in Yemen’s capital
SANAA (AFP) – Thousands of residents were fleeing the Yemeni capital on Friday as deadly clashes between dissident tribesmen and loyalist troops raged for a fourth straight day leaving bodies littering the streets. The headquarters of national airline Yemenia were burnt down in fierce fighting through the night, an AFP correspondent reported.
Video: Yemen airport on fire
The headquarters of Yemeni Airways has been engulfed in flames amidst fierce fighting in the capital Sanaa.

US envoy embarks on mission to halt Yemen sliding into civil war
Fighting between forces loyal to the Yemeni President and one of the country’s most influential tribes intensified yesterday as an American envoy flew to the region in an attempt to stop the country from plunging into a bloody civil war. At least 135 people have died in clashes in the capital, Sanaa, in the past 10 days, the bloodiest period since a popular uprising calling for political reform started in January.
Feud within key Yemen tribe could tear nation apart
If Yemen collapses, the fuse will have been lighted by a war pitting President Ali Abdullah Saleh against his senior clansman, analysts say, not pro-democracy protests or other challenges to his rule. The unrest shaking Yemen began months ago as part of the idealistic movement for democracy and political reform sweeping the Middle East and North Africa. It is now a battle of money, power and egos within a single powerful clan that threatens to tear the country apart.
Other Mideast/Analysis & Op-ed
Iran not a nuclear threat, says Pulitzer Prize winning journalist
In an interview with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh warned that the United States’ “aggressive” sanction policy against Iran was aimed at halting a nuclear weapons program that does not exist. “Clearly the sanction policy is aimed at trying to force Iran to change its foreign policy — not regime change, that’s not going to happen,” he said. “Bush might have been interested in regime change, Obama is not.”
Seymour Hersh on the Arab Spring, “Disaster” U.S. Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the Looming Crisis in Iraq
Veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh assesses the popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa amidst ongoing U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Despite touted gains and an upcoming U.S. military withdrawal deadline in Iraq, Hersh says, “Whatever you’re hearing, Iraq is going bad… It’s sectarian war. And the big question is going to be whether we pull out or not.” On the uprisings, Hersh says Saudi Arabia, fearing an overthrow of the regional order, is driving the embattled regimes’ attempts to crush the protests. [includes rush transcript]
Arms bonanza
Arab spring brings cheer to global weapons industry.
The Determination of the Arab Revolutions, ESAM AL-AMIN
After the relatively swift triumphs of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions in deposing their dictators earlier this year, other Arab dictators drew a different set of lessons than their populations did. Fed up with decades of repression, corruption, and the break down of state institutions, as well as the complete loss of faith in any meaningful political or social reforms in their societies, people across the Arab world this spring have waged simultaneous mass movements to force sweeping changes.

Epic of a patient. A patient traveler. A Palestinian patient traveler.

Jun 06, 2011

Sameeha Elwan

pa • tient noun

1. a person who is receiving medical treatment, especially in a hospital

cancer patients

2. a person who receives treatment from a particular doctor, dentist, etc

He’s one of Dr Shaw’s patients.

© Oxford University Press, 2010

pa • tient adjective

~ (with sb/sth)

able to wait for a long time or accept annoying behaviour or difficulties without becoming angry

© Oxford University Press, 2010

“Allah ye’tahom el yahood” Damn Jews! My mother bitterly mumbled, her eyes welled with tears she could no longer hold back. My brother has just finished a call with an officer working in the Rafah Border. The officer assured us what we feared. He told us that my mother, who is holding a medical report to be transferred to Egypt for treatment, cannot take off to Rafah border unless she has previously registered her name in the Ministry of Interior. She has to wait. Again.

“Why should all doors get closed in my face? I had a glimpse of light. Why should it always fade away in a second?” She began whining, blaming her luck, and roaming her wet eyes around the closed ready bags scattered along the room. I stood helpless. With the amount of news I’d heard last week, I could not help a bit. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the news of opening the only official border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, I was no less enthusiastic. It was such a relief. Even with the restriction on the movement that took place only two days after the glorious news it sounded a relief. But, it never does when you are one of the 400 other travelers who’d get turned back or who are denied access or those who have to wait.

I understand how difficult it is to wait. How painful! How tortuous! But we Palestinians seem to be destined for waiting.

My mother has been waiting for the last two months. It all started three months ago after the Egyptian revolution and news about some tremendous changes in the Egyptian regime that in the process might finally lead to relieving the restrictions imposed on about a million and a half Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. My mother thought maybe this time she could travel to Egypt to check on her medical condition without having to go through a tunnel. Yes, she was actually smuggled through a tunnel two years ago for medical treatment. A much longer epic that I hoped would not happen again.

However, she discovered her condition was actually much more dangerous than she had originally thought. She urgently needs medical treatment that might involve surgery.

Performing her operation here is not an option. Yes, like all other Palestinians living in Gaza, I have doubts and fears when it comes to treating grave diseases in our hospitals. Not only because of the lack of well-qualified doctors, which is part of the problem, but because for ages Gaza has been denied access to medical technical equipment.

It sounded like an act of treason. It still does. An Israeli hospital felt like the best option. For days, I couldn’t get the paradox. It didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t figure out if I should be grateful to Israel for potentially providing my mother with the medical treatment, or for potentially saving my mother’s life while claiming the lives of hundreds of others.

Getting her a place in a hospital in Jerusalem would be a blessing. But when it comes to Jerusalem, things are not that simple or even that human. Getting an appointment in a hospital in Jerusalem was the hard part. Seemingly, my mother was not about to die. God Forbid. Therefore, she has to wait. Again.

While waiting, I romanticized about the time I’d be spending in Jerusalem. I’ve never seen Jerusalem before. This was my chance. I should be escorting my mother during her stay there. What bliss! The Israelis left me no room for fancy though. I was later informed that I was not allowed to accompany my mother for her treatment in Jerusalem for I was underage. I am 23. I am legally mature, but for Israel I was apparently a potential threat. My hopes for going to Jerusalem were crushed down. My mother’s documents were rejected. She would not go to Jerusalem either.

Last year, I was asked by a journalist whether I remember a time when there were no restriction over movement or when we were able to travel freely. It didn’t take me much time to answer with a “No”. I still remember how we used to celebrate my uncles by making big banquets every time one of them would make it to Gaza for a day or two. While celebrating their victorious effortless 3-day journey of return, we would chat about of the ways Egyptians, Israelis and Palestinians would each treat Palestinian travelers.

If I were asked the same question today, looking at the packed bags leaning against the wall, I would still answer: No.

Sameeha Elwan blogs @ Here, I was born

Bassem Tamimi to judge: ‘Land theft and tree burning are not just. Your military laws are not legitimate. Our peaceful protest is just’

Jun 06, 2011


From the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee [and all readers are urged to read Tamimi’s statement below, as eloquent a statement of resistance as you will ever read]:

After more than two months in custody, the trial of Bassem Tamimi, a 44 year-old protest organizer from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, finally commenced yesterday. Tamimi, who is the coordinator for the Nabi Saleh popular committee, pleaded not guilty to the charges laid against him.

In a defiant speech handed before a crowded courtroom, Tamimi proudly owned up to organizing the protest in the village saying, “I organized these peaceful demonstrations to defend our land and our people.” Tamimi also challenged the legitimacy of the very system which trys him, saying that “Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws […] that are enacted by authorities which I haven’t elected and do not represent me.” (See Tamimi’s full statement at court bellow).

Tamimi was interrupted by the judge who warned him that it was not a political trial, and that such statements were out of place in a courtroom. Tamimi was cut short and not allowed to deliver his full statement.

After Tamimi finished reading his shortened statement, the judge announced that the hearing’s protocol has been erroneously deleted. However he refused to submit the full written statement to the stenographer. She went on to dictate a short summary in her own words for official record.

The indictment against Tamimi is based on questionable and coerced confessions of youth from the village. He is charged with’ incitement’, ‘organizing and participating in unauthorized processions’,’ solicitation to stone-throwing’, ‘failure to attend legal summons’, and a scandalous charge of ‘disruption of legal proceedings’, for allegedly giving youth advice on how to act during police interrogation in the event that they are arrested.

The transcript of Tamimi’s police interrogation further demonstrates the police and Military Prosecution’s political motivation and disregard for the suspect’s rights. During his questioning, Tamimi was accused by his interrogator of “consulting lawyers and foreigners to prepare for his interrogation”, an act that is in no way in breach of the law.

Tamimi’s full statement:
Your Honor,

I hold this speech out of belief in peace, justice, freedom, the right to live in dignity, and out of respect for free thought in the absence of Just Laws.

Every time I am called to appear before your courts, I become nervous and afraid. Eighteen years ago, my sister was killed by in a courtroom such as this, by a staff member. In my lifetime, I have been nine times imprisoned for an overall of almost 3 years, though I was never charged or convicted. During my imprisonment, I was paralyzed as a result of torture by your investigators. My wife was detained, my children were wounded, my land was stolen by settlers, and now my house is slated for demolition.

I was born at the same time as the Occupation and have been living under its inherent inhumanity, inequality, racism and lack of freedom ever since. Yet, despite all this, my belief in human values and the need for peace in this land have never been shaken. Suffering and oppression did not fill my heart with hatred for anyone, nor did they kindle feelings of revenge. To the contrary, they reinforced my belief in peace and national standing as an adequate response to the inhumanity of Occupation.

International law guarantees the right of occupied people to resist Occupation. In practicing my right, I have called for and organized peaceful popular demonstrations against the Occupation, settler attacks and the theft of more than half of the land of my village, Nabi Saleh, where the graves of my ancestors have lain since time immemorial.

I organized these peaceful demonstrations in order to defend our land and our people. I do not know if my actions violate your Occupation laws. As far as I am concerned, these laws do not apply to me and are devoid of meaning. Having been enacted by Occupation authorities, I reject them and cannot recognize their validity.

Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws which lack any legitimacy; laws that are enacted by authorities that I have not elected and do not represent me. I am accused of organizing peaceful civil demonstrations that have no military aspects and are legal under international law.

We have the right to express our rejection of Occupation in all of its forms; to defend our freedom and dignity as a people and to seek justice and peace in our land in order to protect our children and secure their future.

The civil nature of our actions is the light that will overcome the darkness of the Occupation, bringing a dawn of freedom that will warm the cold wrists in chains, sweep despair from the soul and end decades of oppression.

These actions are what will expose the true face of the Occupation, where soldiers point their guns at a woman walking to her fields or at checkpoints; at a child who wants to drink from the sweet water of his ancestors’ fabled spring; against an old man who wants to sit in the shade of an olive tree, once mother to him, now burnt by settlers.

We have exhausted all possible actions to stop attacks by settlers, who refuse to adhere to your courts’ decisions, which time and again have confirmed that we are the owners of the land, ordering the removal of the fence erected by them.

Each time we tried to approach our land, implementing these decisions, we were attacked by settlers, who prevented us from reaching it as if it were their own.

Our demonstrations are in protest of injustice. We work hand in hand with Israeli and international activists who believe, like us, that had it not been for the Occupation, we could all live in peace on this land. I do not know which laws are upheld by generals who are inhibited by fear and insecurity, nor do I know their thoughts on the civil resistance of women, children and old men who carry hope and olive branches. But I know what justice and reason are. Land theft and tree-burning is unjust. Violent repression of our demonstrations and protests and your detention camps are not evidence of the illegality of our actions. It is unfair to be tryed under a law forced upon us. I know that I have rights and my actions are just.

The military prosecutor accuses me of inciting the protesters to throw stones at the soldiers. This is not true. What incites protesters to throw stones is the sound of bullets, the Occupation’s bulldozers as they destroy the land, the smell of teargas and the smoke coming from burnt houses. I did not incite anyone to throw stones, but I am not responsible for the security of your soldiers who invade my village and attack my people with all the weapons of death and the equipment of terror.

These demonstrations that I organize have had a positive influence over my beliefs; they allowed me to see people from the other side who believe in peace and share my struggle for freedom. Those freedom fighters have rid their conscious from the Occupation and put their hands in ours in peaceful demonstrations against our common enemy, the Occupation. They have become friends, sisters and brothers. We fight together for a better future for our children and theirs.

If released by the judge will I be convinced thereby that justice still prevails in your courts? Regardless of how just or unjust this ruling will be, and despite all your racist and inhumane practices and Occupation, we will continue to believe in peace, justice and human values. We will still raise our children to love; love the land and the people without discrimination of race, religion or ethnicity; embodying thus the message of the Messenger of Peace, Jesus Christ, who urged us to “love our enemy.” With love and justice, we make peace and build the future.

Bassem Tamimi is a veteran Palestinian grassroots activist from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, north of Ramallah. He is married to Nariman Tamimi, with whom he fathers four children – Wa’ed (14), Ahed (10), Mohammed (8) and Salam (5).

As a veteran activist, Tamimi has been arrested by the Israeli army 11 times to date and has spent roughly three years in Israeli jails, though he was never convicted of any offence. He spent roughly three years in administrative detention, with no charges brought against him. Furthermore, his attorney and he were denied access to “secret evidence” brought against him.

In 1993, Tamimi was falsely arrested on suspicion of having murdered an Israeli settler in Beit El – an allegation of which he was cleared entirely. During his weeks-long interrogation, he was severely tortured by the Israeli Shin Bet in order to draw a coerced confession from him. During his interrogation, and as a result of the torture he underwent, Tamimi collapsed and had to be evacuated to a hospital, where he laid unconscious for seven days.

As one of the organizers of the Nabi Saleh protests and coordinator of the village’s popular committee, Tamimi has been the target of harsh treatment by the Israeli army. Since demonstrations began in the village, his house has been raided and ransacked numerous times, his wife was twice arrested and two of his sons were injured; Wa’ed, 14, was hospitalized for five days when a rubber-coated bullet penetrated his leg and Mohammed, 8, was injured by a tear-gas projectile that was shot directly at him and hit him in the shoulder. Shortly after demonstrations in the village began, the Israeli Civil Administration served ten demolition orders to structures located in Area C, Tamimi’s house was one of them, despite the fact that it was built in 1965.

Legal background
On the March 24th, 2011, a massive contingent of Israeli Soldiers raided the Tamimi home at around noon, only minutes after he entered the house to prepare for a meeting with a European diplomat. He was arrested and subsequently charged.

The main evidence in Tamimi’s case is the testimony of 14 year-old Islam Dar Ayyoub, also from Nabi Saleh, who was taken from his bed at gunpoint on the night of January 23rd. In his interrogation the morning after his arrest, Islam alleged that Bassem and Naji Tamimi organized groups of youth into “brigades”, charged with different responsibilities during the demonstrations: some were allegedly in charge of stone-throwing, others of blocking roads, etc.

During a trial-within-a-trial procedure in Islam’s trial, motioning for his testimony to be ruled inadmissible, it was proven that his interrogation was fundamentally flawed and violated the rights set forth in the Israeli Youth Law in the following ways:

  1. Despite being a minor, he was questioned in the morning following his arrest, having been denied sleep.

  2. He was denied legal counsel, although his lawyer appeared at the police station requesting to see him.

  3. He was denied his right to have a parent present during his questioning.

  4. He was not informed of his right to remain silent, and was even told by his interrogators that he is “expected to tell the truth”.

  5. Only one of four interrogators present was a qualified youth interrogator.

While the trial-within-a-trial procedure has not yet reached conclusion, the evidence already revealed has brought a Military Court of Appeals to revise its remand decision and order Islam’s release to house arrest.

Over the past two months, the army has arrested 24 of Nabi Saleh’s residents on protest related suspicions. Half of those arrested are minors, the youngest of whom is merely eleven.

Ever since the beginning of the village’s struggle against settler takeover of their lands in December of 2009, the army has conducted 71 protest related arrests. As the entire village numbers just over 500 residents, the number constitutes approximately 10% of its population.

Tamimi’s arrest corresponds to the systematic arrest of civil protest leaders all around the West Bank, as in the case of the villages Bil’in and Ni’ilin.

Only recently the Military Court of Appeals has aggravated the sentence of Abdallah Abu Rahmah from the village of Bilin, sending him to 16 months imprisonment on charges of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations. Abu Rahmah was released on March 2011.

The arrest and trial of Abu Rahmah has been widely condemned by the international community, most notably by Britain andEU foreign minister, Catherin Ashton. Harsh criticism of the arrest has also been offered by leading human rights organizations in Israel and around the world, among them B’tselem, ACRI, as well as Human Rights Watch, which declared Abu Rahmah’s trial unfair, and Amnesty International, which declared Abu Rahmah a prisoner of conscience.

A sophisticated movement arrives on Israel’s doorstep– Arab spring– and Israel has only one plan

Jun 06, 2011

Philip Weiss

Fabulous post by Max Blumenthal today on the strategy behind the refugees’ protests at the border of the occupation, and Israel’s violent response. Go to Blumenthal’s post to read Rami Zurayk (whose book has just been published by JWB). But here is the Israeli stuff:

Yesterday, on June 5, the commemoration of Naksa Day, Palestinian refugees and their supporters returned to the Israeli controlled frontiers to protest the 44th anniversary of the occupation. Protests swelled at the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, where according to Joseph Dana Israeli forces tested out new and unusual weapons on demonstrators, and spread to Nablus, where Israeli forces fired teargas shells at a group of people protesting the occupation by planting trees. The most intense protests took place at the Quneitra crossing near the occupied Golan Heights, where Israeli forces gunned down at least 20 unarmed demonstrators as they approached the frontier fence (be sure to watch the video at the link). “We could have taken the easier route of uncontrolled fire, but we decided to operate in a very limited manner,” an army spokesman said afterward, reassuring the world that Israel could have killed hundreds more, but chose to pick off about 20 unarmed civilians in the name of restraint.

In the hours following the bloodshed, the Israeli response grew increasingly contorted. Army spokespeople claimed the demonstrators “were responsible for their own deaths,” claiming they stepped on landmines. No evidence of landmine deaths was provided by the unnamed military sources, only conjecture. Next, Israel turned to its favorite Syrian cut-out in Washington, Farid Ghadry, an AIPAC member and discredited “serial entrepreneur” who is widely regarded as the Syrian version of Ahmed Chalabi — Ghadry actually met Chalabi in Richard Perle’s living room. In a statement published on the website of his astro-turfed Reform Party of Syria, Ghadry claimed that the protesters at Quneitra were not actual Palestinian refugees, but impoverished “Syrian farmers” who had been paid $1000 each by the Assad regime just to show up, and $10,000 to die. Ghadry claimed he gleaned the information from “intelligence sources close to the Assad regime in Lebanon.”

Israeli military spokespeople appear to be pushing Ghadry’s press release, because the canard immediately showed up in a report by Yediot Aharnoth’s Hanan Greenberg, one of the many military correspondents in the Israeli media who dutifully report any claim by any flack in an olive uniform as though it were a substantiated fact. “Syrian Opposition: Anti-Israel Rioters paid $1000,” read the Yediot headline. But the story has not graduated beyond the pro-Israel blogosphere, probably because Ghadry and his shell of an opposition group — it is quite clearly a neocon front organization — have no credibility in Syria or anywhere else.

But since the Arab Spring arrived on Israel’s doorstep, Israel’s strategy has depended on lethal violence and little else. And it may be that it has no other strategy, that there is no Plan B.

Israel spins the Naksa killings

Jun 06, 2011

Alex Kane

The Israeli government is in spin mode over yesterday’s events in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where hundreds of protesters calling for the right of return marched and were met with Israeli gunfire. If the repression inflicted on unarmed protesters three weeks ago during the Nakba protests are any guide, a heavy dose of skepticism and questioning of official Israeli claims is needed.

A number of people were reportedly killed yesterday in the Golan Heights, and scores were injured in unarmed demonstrations across the West Bank quashed by Israel. The demonstrators were marking the anniversary of the Naksa, or setback, in the 1967 war.

Israeli officials are busy pushing this story: the protesters in the Golan Heights yesterday were pawns used by the Syrian regime to deflect attention from Syria’s own internal uprising, and besides, Israeli troops didn’t kill the demonstrators. Instead, according to the Israeli Defense Forces, “Soldiers fired ‘with precision’ at the bottom half of the bodies of the protesters…an initial IDF inquiry into Sunday’s events found that up to ten Syrian protesters had been killed when Molotov cocktails which the protesters had been throwing set off an anti-tank minefield.”

Of course, one should take the Syrian regime’s claims lightly as well, but the Israeli claims shouldn’t be taken at face value, either. Max Blumenthal documents the Israeli spin here.

We also have the documented record of what Israel did on May 15, killing unarmed protesters demanding their right of return.A Human Rights Watch report I highlighted here shows that Israeli snipers–the very same ones we are supposed to believe fired “with precision” yesterday–killed unarmed protesters along the Lebanon-Israel border.

The wild stories Israel is pushing that Blumenthal reports on, and the history of the Israeli response to unarmed Palestinian resistance, should make this clear at the very least: the official Israeli story is one not to be trusted. Videos posted by Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada here and here also show the violence Israel meted out yesterday. In addition, as Abunimah put it, the Israeli Army’s chief of staff recently outlined a “new, more brutal doctrine against nonviolent protests.” But tell that to the U.S. media.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist based in New York City, blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia at alexbkane.wordpress.com, where this post originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Rabbi Jacobs declares his ‘Zionist commitments’ so as to get nod as reform Jewish president

Jun 06, 2011

Lizzy Ratner

This coming week, the big fish of the Union for Reform Judaism, the congregational wing of Judaism’s reform movement, will gather somewhere in Tri-State Metropolitan Area for their semi-annual board of trustees meeting. During this time they will almost certainly vote to elect Rabbi Richard Jacobs the new president of the reform movement, a position he’ll officially take over from long-time leader Eric Yoffie in June 2012. It’s a big deal because the reform movement is the numerical, if not the spiritual, heavy of modern American Judaism. With some 900 member congregations, and 1.5 million individual members, it represents more Jews than any other branch of Judaism in the United States, and the man (because you can bet it’s always a man) who gets chosen to lead these members has no small influence. Which is among the many reasons Rabbi Jacobs’srecent speech, “My Heart is in the East: My Zionist Commitments,” is so deeply depressing.

Rabbi Jacobs apparently felt compelled to give this speech after a band of reform movement dissidents began agitating against his selection because they felt he wasn’t sufficiently “pro-Israel.” First came the whispers, then the op-eds and finally the ads, scattered throughout select Jewish newspapers, asking the Union for Reformed Judaism to “reconsider this divisive appointment.” Jacobs’s particular offense? Membership on the board of the New Israel Fund, membership in J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet (a position Jacobs later denied holding), and participation in one of the Sheikh Jarrah demonstrations in Jerusalem – o as the Zionist Organization of America’s Morton Klein phrased it, associating with “extremist groups.”

Now all this hysteria and hyperbole would be funny, truly funny, if it weren’t so pervasive these days – the trip-wire response to anyone who offers even the gentlest criticism of Israel – and if declared leaders like Jacobs didn’t drop so readily to their knees in the face of it. But drop he did in the form of a 25-minute loyalty oath in which he seemed less like a man of spirit than a magician contorting the balloon of his conscience into one ridiculous shape after another – poodle, flower, fish – as he tried to make his impressive social justice commitments (to Haiti, Darfur, affordable housing, the Park 51 Islamic center) square with his commitment to Israel. It wasn’t pretty. For every micro-nod he made toward justice – toward acknowledging, for instance, that Israel might not treat its Arab population so wonderfully – he offered an equal – no, more than equal – and opposite nod toward the brutal status quo. So the claim that Israel is an apartheid state? Ridiculous, he said. The Goldstone Report? “Biased” and beset by “fatal flaws.” The IDF? You guessed it, “no other fighting force has more ethical rigor.” And not just that: in the wake of Operation Cast Lead, the 22-day military campaign during which Israel killed some 1400 Palestinians and leveled much of Gaza, he argued that “these remarkable young soldiers” must be supported more than ever. As for “Jewish life,” it “cannot be imagined without Israel at its core,” he said, displaying an unforgivable lack of imagination while also, no doubt, alienating at least a few members of his flock.

None of this is exactly surprising. Despite its relatively liberal domestic politics, the URJ is not a force for progressive change when it comes to Israel-Palestine. And the number of rabbis of any denomination who are truly righteous – or at least publicly righteous – when it comes to Israel hovers in the small dozens. Nonetheless, Rabbi Jacobs doesn’t seem completely blind to the injustices perpetrated in and by Israel, and his politics might in fact be an improvement over those of previous leaders, meaning he should know better. Moreover, he was chosen to helm the URJ at least in part to offer a new kind of leadership, one that will reel the young folks back into the reform movement and give it a needed jolt.

Doesn’t he know? A dawning critical consciousness about Israel is at least part of the reason – and a good part – for the Youth Drift afflicting non-Orthodox branches of Judaism. So how can he hope to lure the young people in? And what kind of spiritual leader can he really hope to be?

B’hatzlacha, Rabbi Jacobs.

American Jews you must face down your terror and come out to your families

Jun 06, 2011

Tom Pessah

My Israeli Zionist education is hard to shake off, even after years of pro-Palestine activism. One aspect that was easy for me to miss, until recently, is the underlying feeling of being a new, proud Jew in relation to diasporic American Jews and their tiresome complexes. Get over it already! Speak out loudly against the occupation, instead of whining on about your fears. Be proud of who you are, and tough – just like me!

Over the weekend Haaretz carried an interview with feminist psychologist Carol Gilligan. According to her research, “in childhood [girls] have an autonomous voice and are far more aware of that voice than boys are, whereas in adolescence they are more aware of their body and their voice starts to stammer. The older they get, the more I hear ‘I don’t know.’ They forgo their voice and choose relationships in order to be accepted and loved.”

Gilligan doesn’t talk about Palestine, but the interview is entitled “raise your voice” – which is probably pro-Palestine activists’ central message to American Jewry. In doing this work I’m coming to realize that our primary challenge may not be the vocal right-wingers, but reaching those who “don’t know,” those who have lost their voice. This has happened to many women, many less educated Jews, many younger people who are told they are too naïve, and to all those who’ve heard that by virtue of being American Jews, not having experienced life in Israel/Palestine, they can never know what it’s like – what I call the Israeli Experience Mystique.

I used to think these messages came from the establishment, big organizations like AIPAC. But the trenches run deep within families. The vicious criticisms people receive for speaking out can come from their parents or their closest neighbors. Behind all the talk of a-political dialogue there is genuine terror of taking a stand, which will lead to being attacked and isolated. We have so many dedicated queer activists in our ranks because they have often survived this nastiness when they came out, and they are no longer afraid.

The cure for ‘not knowing’ is more than exposing people to the facts. It requires building very powerful networks that can help people withstand personal attacks from those closest to them. And to build them we must reach out to Palestinians. Being a student, and having close friends in academia who are women, I don’t feel discrimination against them is something that is going to benefit me as a man – I don’t think of myself as sharing interests with sexist professors who want to keep the other gender in its place. Similarly, the more Palestinian friends and colleagues I have, the less I feel ending the occupation orimplementing the right of return is an issue of “our” interests vs. “theirs. “We” now includes my closest friends, the people I hope to live with in the mixed neighborhoods we will have all over Israel/Palestine – after apartheid ends.

Hersh says Obama is in a political ‘cult’ and isolated from folks with independent ideas

Jun 06, 2011

Philip Weiss

Seymour Hersh on Amy Goodman Friday. Thomas Pickering is old school, a Bush I guy, worked for Clinton too, a realist. The Obama isolation that Hersh describes is about Iran and Afghanistan but surely applies to Israel and Palestine too.

And I’ll tell you the biggest problem he has, as awful as those things are, as
counterproductive, and as much as he’s following, oh, yes, Bush and Cheney in those policies–and I think the President– I’ll be writing about this–I think he was really sandbagged by the Pentagon after he got into office, when he was new and innocent. And I still think–I think right now–I would almost use the word “cult” to describe what’s going on in the White House. Everything is political. He’s isolated. Very good people say they’ve never seen a president this isolated, in terms of being unable to get to him with different opinions, etc. So here’s really captive of a few people there. I know this may sound strange, but I know what I’m talking about. You can’t get to the guy–and even, for example, Pickering, as competent as he is. And Pickering has done some wonderful stuff for the United States intelligence community undercover, and so he’s known as a trusted guy. Those guys who have been involved in talking to Iran off the record, Track II policy talks, for years can’t get to the President. He may not even know they’re looking for him. I just don’t know.

Bob Casey and other Dems support unending occupation in latest submarining of Obama

Jun 06, 2011

Alex Kane

The first shot of what promises to be many that target President Barack Obama’s stance on Israel was fired yesterday when the Emergency Committee for Israel released an ad blasting Obama for siding “with the Palestinians.”

It’s unclear whether the noise about Obama’s call at the State Department for the 1967 borders to be the starting point for negotiations will amount to anything. But the neoconservative group’s ad does contain an important kernel of truth: that support for Israel and its occupation runs across the aisle.

The transcript of the ad reads:

Voiceover: When President Obama sided with the Palestinians, members of both parties stood with Israel.

Harry Reid: Nobody should set premature perimeters about borders.

Steny Hoyer: Israel’s borders must be defensible.

Bob Casey: Jerusalem is the undivided and eternal capitol of Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu: And I see a lot of new friends of Israel here…. Democrats and Republicans alike.

Voiceover: The Emergency Committee for Israel thanks Israel’s true friends, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Obama’s remarks on the borders of Israel were mild, and reflected long-standing U.S. policy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu picked a fight, though, and the Israel lobby went into high-gear. And so you have Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, proclaiming his support for unending occupation when he vows that “Jerusalem is the undivided and eternal capital of Israel.” And you have Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, publicly rebuking Obama–the leader of Reid’s party–for daring to say that the pre-1967 borders should be the starting point for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

This political dynamic of unquestioning support for Israel and its occupation will produce, and already has begun to produce, a rush from Obama and his allies to assure donors and the Jewish establishment that Obama is truly pro-Israel (meaning pro-occupation).

Ben Smith at Politico reports:

Amid a certain amount of…tsouris…in the Jewish community over Benjamin Netanyahu’s confrontational visit, Danielle Borrin, the Biden aide who serves as Jewish Liaison, emails Jewish leaders the link to “a powerful new resource on the White House website designed to answer any questions about President Obama’s commitment to advancing Israel’s security and supporting peace.”

The extensive talking points, and an op-ed by Rahm Emanuel, represent a new round of pushback against a drumbeat of claims that Obama has, as Romney said, thrown Israel under the bus.

So the fight over Israel in the 2012 elections will not be about which politician is most capable of producing peace. Instead, you will have both Democrats and Republicans fighting over who can support Israel more. And in the meantime, land theft, settlement expansion and the crackdown on Palestinian protest continues without a peep from Israel’s number one ally.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist and blogger, writes on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia in the U.S. at alexbkane.wordpress.com, where this post originally appeared. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

‘Haaretz’ busts Netanyahu lies with Ali Haider column; why can’t the ‘NYT’ do as much?

Jun 06, 2011

Ilene Cohen

Ilene Cohen regularly sends out emails to friends. This one got widely passed around, and in that spirit, she allowed us to publish it. –Editor.

I have been in Jerusalem for the past two weeks visiting with Tamar, Uri, Nina, and Magali and seeing friends. Days have been long and full and, as I am traveling with an iPad, I’ve been keeping up with news (most especially the triumphal Netanyahu visit to the United States capital) but, alas (or perhaps just as well), I have been completely disabled in my output until now. My typing on the iPad produces a ratio of typos to correct letters that does not yield an English product. This is the first moment I’ve had to sit down at a proper keyboard.

Netanyahu’s lies and boorishness were in character and exactly as expected, though his mindless reception by the US Congress came as a shock to friends here. In fact, anyone familiar with the Congress (Republicans as regards everything, Democrats as regards most especially Israel) should not have been surprised–except, perhaps, that there were only twenty-nine standing ovations.

Opinion in Israel about Netanyahu’s arrogant performance has been divided between those who were thrilled that the PM stuck it to Obama and who believe that Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine is now assured and those who believe that he has now revealed his obstructionist agenda to the world in one of the most official of settings possible–the US Congress. The miserable truth, long known, is now undeniable. Just a few weeks back, even poor Thomas Friedman had to admit that no one believes Netanyahu (other than the usual suspects, of course).

Following is some commentary worth noting, an op-ed in Haaretz by my friend Ali Haider. As a Palestinian citizen of Israel, he expresses particular outrage at Netanyahu’s patronizing comments about how lucky the Arab one-fifth of Israeli citizens are to be second-class citizens in the Israeli version democracy. Would be nice to see the New York Times publish such a piece and help burst the bubble about the “only democracy in the Middle East.”

[P]ublic education in the Arab community lags far behind that in the Jewish sector – and all this as a result of systematic and consistent discrimination by all the governments of Israel.

And though the Arab citizens of Israel may constitute less than one-half of 1 percent of all the Arabs in the Middle East, they comprise about one-fifth of the population of Israel, yet their representation in the civil service here is only 7 percent. There isn’t a single Arab cabinet minister or ministry director general or government company CEO, university president or public company chairman. No university or government hospital has ever been built in an Arab municipality, and since 1948, the state has not established even one new Arab town or city. Some 60 percent of all Arab families live below the poverty line.

But let’s face it, there was not a single sentence in Netanyahu’s blatherings to the Congress that could not be similarly shredded, as not a word of truth passed his arrogant lips.

For succinct overview of what this all means, see the excellent piece by Philip Stephens, in the Financial Times.

Israel’s prime minister will never negotiate seriously with the Palestinians. As a former Israeli diplomat said of Mr Netanyahu’s speech: “Everything is changing, but he is determined that everything remains the same.”This time the world is unlikely to wait. Events are leaving Israel behind.

And last, an occupation update from East Jerusalem: zoning for Jews only.

Nonetheless, despite the triumphalism in certain sectors of Israel (the racist Jerusalem Day festivities on Wednesday were an awful sight to behold), I think the colonial enterprise doesn’t have a future–and they don’t have a clue.

PS On my flight over the person making announcements on Continental said as we we landing, “Welcome to the Promised Land.” Oy. It is oppressive. Should I write to them?

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